The 10 Best Fireproof Safes
This wiki has been updated 22 times since it was first published in February of 2017. Whether you're a business owner protecting cash and customer files or you want to keep your personal valuables at home safe from disasters and thieves, one of these fireproof safes should fit the bill. They are rated to withstand high temperatures and are equipped with pry-resistant components and sophisticated combination, biometric and key-actuated locking mechanisms. Many are waterproof, too. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
February 24, 2021:
We removed the Stack-On Personal, Protex Electronic and Docu Ninja Bag due to availability issues, although we were quick to replace the latter option with a similar alternative: the Aitere Document Bag — which can withstand temperatures of 2,500 Fahreneheit and comes with a complimentary, fireproof wallet. Just note that, while this offering can offer an extra layer of fire protection to your valuables, it’s no substitute for some of the heavy duty options in this category.
We also added the SentrySafe EF4738E to our list — a solid option from a well-renowned company that offers more than 4.7 cubic feet of storage space, and comes with attachment hardware so you can bolt it down straight away. It employs five live-locking bolts and four deadbolts to ensure that it’s all but impossible to get its door open without an invitation.
And our last new inclusion this time around was the Jolitac Biometric Cabinet, which became the first biometric safe on this list. It can memorize up to 32 fingerprints, so you can feel free to program in a couple of your own – one on each hand for convenience, plus as a backup in case you happen to wind up with some sort of a cut or blemish on your primary finger – or have it learn your trusted employees’ prints, so you’re not always the one stuck doing the bank deposit.
If you don’t see an option you like here, I’d urge you to keep looking through a few more of our lists. We maintain rankings for many niche safe categories – including drawer safes, wall safes and gun safes – so there’s a good chance that one will include something that speaks to you. Just be careful reading the fine print, if fire-proofing is a priority for you, as many of our picks elsewhere are likely not fire retardant.
September 25, 2019:
When it comes to fireproof safes, it remains hard to beat the top names, including Honeywell, First Alert, and Mesa. We'd like to note that we have not penalized any of these models for needing to be aired out; this is standard with fireproof/waterproof safes because of their construction. But we did decide to remove the Paragon 7800 because of problems with its keypad, which can lead to aggravation in the long run. And we kept the Protex Electronic, even though it's not a self-install option for many. In fact, the company recommends that you have a professional complete the job.
Finally, we added one soft-sided model, the Docu Ninja Bag. It's more portable than many, so if you worry about having to grab your documents and leave quickly, it's a good choice. It would also pair nicely with a run of the mill home safe. But it doesn't offer any real protection against theft, so you shouldn't count on it to stop even casual thieves.
Hollon Oyster Series Unlike many models that are made strictly to handle an unforeseen blaze, the Hollon Oyster Series was designed to stop determined burglars, as well. Plus, models in this line offer two hours of fire protection, which should give even the biggest worriers peace of mind. hollonsafe.com
The Gem Series by Brown Safe The Gem Series by Brown Safe ensures that your precious jewelry remains safe and untouched, with plenty of customizable features to suit your collection. Thanks to a range of high gloss paint colors and hardware finishes, they're not just secure but stylish, too. brownsafe.com
FireKing Classic Vertical File Cabinet If you have mountains of paperwork, you'll want to protect it with the FireKing Classic Vertical File Cabinet. Although these look like any regular filing cabinet, they're fire-rated for one or two hours and boast a strong key lock, to boot. fireking.com
Keep It Hidden
However, there are different certificates that look at longer durations and higher heat.
It may sound ominous and maybe even a bit biblical, but raging fires and sweeping floods happen more often than you'd like to think. It doesn't make you paranoid or a worrywart to consider natural disasters — it's just plain common sense to plan ahead. If you've reached a point in your life where you have precious valuables worth protecting, it might be time to contemplate buying a fireproof safe.
The right fireproof safe will guard everything from your tax returns, travel documents, and irreplaceable photos to heirlooms, jewelry, and even flash drives. While you could pay an annual fee to rent an off-site safety deposit box as an alternative, having your own means of protection gives you complete independence from any institution. It also provides you with the convenience that comes with having crucial items close at hand. Another upside to keeping your treasures secured at home is that you won't forget where your things are; never again will locating your passport or marriage license turn into a panic-fueled game of hide-and-seek.
Blaze-resistant strongboxes are subject to rigorous standards, especially in the United States. Independent organizations such as Underwriters Laboratories and Intertek rate their resilience in a handful of ways. One of their most common standards ensures that a safe can endure temperatures of 1,500 degrees for at least 30 minutes. However, there are different certificates that look at longer durations and higher heat. They consider the stored materials and the temperatures that are capable of destroying them. For example, paper can survive in a space that stays under 350 degrees, and digital media will perish at anything over 125.
Many models are also impact-rated, meaning they can survive falls from multiple stories, and some are water-resistant enough to withstand being blasted by a firehose. So, in the event of a structural collapse or a busted pipe, you’ll know you’re covered.
Which Fireproof Safe Is Right For You?
Whether it’s for your home or your business, choosing the right safe depends on your personal preferences and situational factors. Say you want something that’s small enough to carry in the event of an emergency — how can you stop a thief from simply walking away with it? A typical 1.2 cubic-foot model can weigh around 100 pounds, making it difficult to run away with in a hurry. On top of that, you can opt for one that comes with mounting hardware so you can secure it to the floor to further deter sticky-fingered intruders. Even the mere existence of a safe can put a burglar off, as they'll decide that it's a hassle that simply isn't worth the time. It also can’t hurt to seek out a model with an audible tamper alarm, so everyone in the neighborhood will know that someone is messing with your stuff.
It also can’t hurt to seek out a model with an audible tamper alarm, so everyone in the neighborhood will know that someone is messing with your stuff.
If you’ll be storing an abundance of items, a spacious interior with removable shelves and multiple compartments can accommodate various organizational needs. As far as construction, you can’t go wrong with powder-coated or hammered steel. There are also plenty of smart features you can look for, such as programmable memory for PIN numbers, user histories to see any previous entry attempts, and even biometric options that require a fingerprint to open. Products with digital entry capabilities won’t require you to make copies of keys, which are a pain to keep track of and a liability if you lose trust in an employee or family member that has access to one.
You’ll also want to consider where you’d like to put it. The master bedroom tends to be the first place burglars go, so if you’re dead set on having your safe there, you'll want a strongbox that you can completely conceal. This will require something compact enough to hide within a sofa or a false-bottom drawer or the wall if you’re handy enough. If your main concern is fire safety and you’re in the market for a larger vault, then your basement can make a suitable resting place, however, if you live in a flood-prone area, that may not be the best idea. Larger safes can be tricky to hide, but they're difficult to steal, so potential thievery becomes less of a concern and you can concentrate on its resistance to natural disasters instead.
Playing With Fire
Over the centuries, raging infernos, natural disasters, and war have wiped out priceless artifacts, irreplaceable documents, and treasured cultural knowledge. Libraries, in particular, seem to have borne the brunt of these furies, with the tragic Library of Alexandria serving as an ancient example of what can go wrong when invaluable scrolls and books have nothing but their bindings to protect them.
A few years later in 1833, a man named C.J. Gayler constructed a double fireproof chest.
In 1904, at the National University Library in Turin, Italy, a blaze broke out in the manuscript department. Renowned treasures were irrevocably mutilated, among them ancient Ciceronian palimpsests and the Codex Theodosianus. Fast forward to the Royal and Provincial Library in Hanover, Germany circa 1946. Employees had transported the most precious manuscripts from storage to the cellars, where a flood promptly damaged everything. Then there was the Jewish Theological Seminary Library in New York City, which housed rare books that were miraculously saved from destruction during the Second World War. But of course, a conflagration broke out in April of 1966 and reduced 70,000 volumes to ashes.
It wasn’t until the 19th century that manufacturers began to create safes that could survive being exposed to flame. Manufacturer Jesse Delano covered the wooden portions of his chests with a mixture of clay, lime, and plumbago to make them unburnable. A few years later in 1833, a man named C.J. Gayler constructed a double fireproof chest. Sadly, none of these creations could endure high heat without baking whatever was inside like an oven. People finally started to get it right after the 1850s, modifying their innovations to the present day, where we now have vaults that can withstand a nuclear blast. When you reflect on all the damage that has been done over the years, it makes one wonder why we didn’t get around to inventing fireproof safes way sooner.